Stipends Can Reduce Poverty
One of the best ways to aid populations in financial need is using stipends. Niger, the Philippines and Kenya are three countries working to set an example of how stipends can reduce poverty and improve people’s financial status and general well-being.

Niger

The government of Niger has been giving money to those with the most economic need since 2012 and has seen the program change lives. Since the 1990s, researchers have tried to find the most effective way to relieve poverty for those in developing nations. Researchers conducted trials in Niger in which some participants received aid and others did not. The researchers gave benefactors different types of aid in the form of subsidizing materials or direct funds. Through the study, researchers found that stipends can reduce poverty. In the years after the 2012 program, approximately 100,000 households have been given 24 monthly payments of about $16. This money “more than doubled [the citizens’] typical spending power.”

The Philippines

In the Philippines, the government started a program in 2008 called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or 4Ps. Only certain groups are eligible for the stipends, but in 2019, more than 4 million households benefited. One of the requirements of the program is that the beneficiary household’s children must be enrolled in school and attend school 85% of the time. The stipends can reduce poverty, but these educational requirements help individuals as well. Although families can only be eligible for the program for seven years, many see it as extremely helpful in the Philippines.

Kenya

Kenya implemented a program similar to the stipend program in Niger and saw visible success. There is often a fear that when people in poverty receive stipends, they will choose not to work or use the increased income to purchase vices like alcohol instead of necessities. The research that occurred in Kenya showed that stipends gave citizens more free time. From 2011 to 2013, groups of 250 people received about $400 in one payment or through nine equal allotments. Economists found that those who had the payment upfront typically used it for durable goods and the smaller payments often went toward food. The economic activity and overall well-being of both groups increased.

Moreover, research that occurred from 2011 to 2013 found that when more than 10,500 households received $1,000 stipends across 653 randomized villages, the economic benefits helped everyone, including those who did not receive the stipend. This research is limited in scale but shows that stipends can also indirectly reduce poverty.

Economic Value

Overall, the economic value of stipends has been very successful. The examples of Niger, the Philippines and Kenya show how the simple concept of stipends opens up the possibility for a better future. Because stipends can reduce poverty, countries can expand these programs through further research and extend accessibility so more people receive benefits. In the Philippines, families are limited to receiving cash transfers for seven years and it can be hard to qualify. In Kenya, research needs to keep happening on larger scales to show the multitude of benefits. Ultimately, these three examples show the success of stipends in helping those struggling amid poverty.

– Ann Shick
Photo: Flickr

Combating Malnutrition in Nigeria
Baby Grubz is a Nigerian baby food company that produces food inspired by traditional Nigerian flavors while using local ingredients. Nigerian computer scientist Seun Sangoleye founded Baby Grubz while seeking more nutritious food for her son. Although it may produce a small footprint in combating malnutrition in Nigeria, Baby Grubz is an example of the impact small businesses can have on poverty in their communities.

Malnutrition in Nigeria

According to UNICEF, approximately “2 million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).” SAM is especially prevalent in the northeastern regions of Nigeria, which have faced food insecurity due to the regional “rampage” of Boko Haram, according to Al Jazeera. The conflict, which has persisted since 2009, remains to have an effect on food stockpiles in the area, which has led to malnutrition among children in the area — and the problem is only getting worse. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) found that 42.1% of households in three northeastern Nigerian states have “insufficient food intake,” compared to 37.8% in 2021.

A Small Business Solution

Sangoleye founded Baby Grubz upon learning that there were limited options for locally produced, nutritious baby food. She sought to create a “new and nutritious, pocket and family-friendly” alternative to imported baby food products.

“I started Baby Grubz out of a desire for good health for my son but my discoveries about the alarming malnutrition crisis pushed me to continue,” as reported on the Baby Grubz website. She also said that her experience of living in a rural neighborhood opened her eyes to the common struggle and that she decided that her business would “alleviate poverty and provide maximum nutrition at the best prices for the masses.” Her product achieves this by using locally sourced ingredients that are high in malnutrition-tackling vitamins. By using local ingredients, her product also has a small yet positive impact on the local economy.

Infrastructure and COVID-19’s Effects

Baby Grubz’s journey to achieving Sangoleye’s goals of combating malnutrition in Nigeria has faced significant hurdles, however. Infrastructure instability in Nigeria is proving a tricky factor in succeeding as a business. Sangoleye explained to How We Made It in Africa that it is difficult to transport her product throughout the country and that her business uses diesel-powered generators in order to avoid power shortages — a quite costly solution.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit Nigerian businesses hard, with “at least two-thirds” of Nigerian businesses closing down as a result, according to the UNDP. Baby Grubz experienced these effects too, with Sangoleye having to lay off some of her employees. The company’s workforce comprises 95% women, a population that has seen a dropping labor participation rate in the last decade. In Nigeria, 48% of women were part of the national workforce in 2021, compared to a peak of 57% that was reached between 1993-2011.

A Bright Future

Despite these hurdles, Sangoleye continues to pursue her fight against child malnutrition in Nigeria, as well as female empowerment. As economies around the world continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Sangoleye has started hiring again and has no plans to stop, according to How We Made It in Africa. While international organizations like the U.N. and numerous NGOs work on combating malnutrition in Nigeria, Baby Grubz presents a small yet effective solution to combating malnutrition on a local level, while boosting the economy by using locally grown ingredients and hiring workers from the surrounding community.

– Mohammad Samhouri
Photo: Flickr

Food Production in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in south-eastern Africa, frequently suffers from the effects of seasonal droughts. For example, during the 2019 agricultural season, Zimbabwe endured a particularly devastating drought resulting in more than 5 million rural Zimbabweans experiencing food insecurity and nearly 4 million requiring food assistance. On top of issues of food insecurity that lower yields caused, Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate rose to rates above 190% in June 2021, resulting in a higher overall cost of living throughout the country. Additionally, the price of maize has risen by more than 50% since the beginning of 2021. Luckily, drought-resistant grains are boosting food production in Zimbabwe.

How the Zimbabwean Government is Assisting Farmers

To solve the problem of lower yield due to maize not being able to withstand drought conditions, the Zimbabwean government has begun assisting farmers in the transition to farming smaller drought-resistant grains like sorghum and millet. This transition has resulted in food production increases in Zimbabwe, though it has not been easy for many farmers, as these smaller grains require more work to keep up. The small-grain crops attract birds, making a protection system essential to guard their crops. Moreover, when harvested, small-grain crops require more labor-intensive processing. Additionally, because the farmers have stopped farming as much maize, they have subsequently become unable to produce the corn necessary to make many staple Zimbabwean foods.

Responsive Drip Irrigation

Responsive Drip Irrigation is aiding farmers with an innovative irrigation system that helps crop production in drought conditions. It developed an irrigation system that reacts to the crops’ chemicals to determine when the plants need water. Of course, innovative technology such as Responsive Drip Irrigation is expensive and therefore difficult to make available to many Zimbabwean farmers. Nevertheless, in August 2021, Responsive Drip Irrigation began working with smallholder farms to help encourage food production increases in Zimbabwe.

The CAWEP Program

Additionally, in December 2022, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced the implementation of a new three-year initiative to make water more accessible throughout rural Zimbabwe. The CAWEP program allocated $14.8 million to increase access to water for various household uses, improve access to clean and affordable energy, and refurbish current irrigation systems. CAWEP should eventually connect as many as 12,500 people to electricity, assist 150,000 people with accessing water and establish more than 100 hectares of land as workable agricultural property. By making water more accessible to these rural Zimbabwean farmers, the UNDP hopes to increase food production in Zimbabwe.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

Finally, the World Food Programme (WFP) has also worked to provide support for rural Zimbabwean farmers in the face of probable climate shocks such as prevalent droughts. as of November 2022, the WFP has provided nearly 10,000 metric tons of food, more than $420,000 worth of cash-based transfers and has reached close to 500,000 people with these cash transfers. As of December 2022, the WFP provided more than 550,000 people with emergency food assistance.

The Road Ahead

Though frequently facing the brunt of powerful droughts and an ever-growing inflation rate, food production is slowly increasing in Zimbabwe as farmers shift to more sustainable crops and receive help from humanitarian organizations such as the WFP and the UNDP.

– Chris Dickinson
Photo: Flickr

Solutions to Kenya
Addressing the world’s most pressing needs through sustainable solutions is one of the greatest challenges human beings currently face as a collective species. Drop Access, a Kenyan-based women and youth-led NGO that legally incorporated in 2019, works to spark change in rural and grassroots communities by improving access to renewable energy and educational programs. The co-founder and CEO of Drop Access Norah Magero and her team conceptualize and manufacture many of the organization’s solutions in-house. Here is some information about the sustainable solutions that Drop Access is bringing to Kenya.

Challenges with Medical Access

Across Southeast Kenya, rural areas like Kamboo and Yindilani are positioned far from the nearest town and electricity grid, with poor roads for connection. Without a steady supply of electricity, the health facilities across these areas face limits in the services providable, and as such, many residents struggle to meet their basic medical needs.

Media outlet Nigeria Health Watch reported in late 2022 an instance where a facility could not offer maternity services due to the inability to store oxytocin, a peptide hormone administered during labor, because of the low temperatures the drug requires in storage and the lack of cold storage facilities on the premises.

This inadequacy was extremely significant during the COVID-19 pandemic when immunization efforts fell below average as facilities could not store enough vaccines to administer to the population on demand. According to data from the World Bank, in 2019, Kenya spent 4.59% of its GDP on health services, a significant decline from 6.12%, not even a decade earlier in 2010, perhaps offering a reason why medical facilities across rural areas of the country endure shortages and inadequacies.

The VacciBox

In response to these challenges, Magero, through Drop Access, tested the VacciBox, a solar-powered portable fridge. With solar panels on the lid, one can mount the box on a motorcycle, bike or boat for transport while the panels harness solar power along the journey. The design includes an integrated digital feature, gathering data and tracking the supply and dispensation of the contents stored, ensuring more informed and effective immunization efforts.

Drop Access ran a pilot project with Usungu Dispensary, a fully off-grid health facility in Makueni County. Initially, the health facility ran biweekly vaccine transports to the dispensary and returned the supplies to the county hospital at the end of the day. The VacciBox has enabled the dispensary to store more than 1,000 vaccines onsite, a development associated with an exceptional growth of 45% in immunization rates across the area.

Agricultural Efforts

The remote struggle extends beyond the lack of access to basic health care resources. Initially, Magero and the team modeled the VacciBox in response to farmers’ concerns regarding supply chain issues. The prototype emerged to enable more reliable transport of perishable goods, particularly milk, with the cold storage allowing for longer travel periods without the milk spoiling. Each VacciBox can carry up to 50 liters of product, preventing food waste in crucial areas and ensuring an overall more efficient supply chain system that offers safer delivery and consumption of food.

In August 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a $123.7 million appeal to tackle the food crisis in the greater Horn of Africa. Seven nations in the region, including Kenya, are experiencing food insecurity on an unprecedented scale.

As of June 2022, more than 37 million people are experiencing levels of food insecurity so severe that people are forgoing essential livelihood assets and turning to other crisis-coping strategies to feed their families as malnutrition is prevalent. Low income, high prices as a result of shortages, drought and supply chain issues contribute to these crisis levels of hunger.

Drop Access hosts workshops to develop and enhance agricultural practices across Kenya. Extremely impactful work, targeting what PricewaterhouseCoopers calls the “the backbone of Kenya’s economy,” agriculture makes up 80% of Kenya’s workforce. Through educational programs informing farmers on innovative and sustainable solutions, the aim is to sustainably increase production levels. The organization aims to educate and inform agricultural workers on the technological developments in the sector and how best to integrate these into their practices.

Education

Education initiatives extend beyond agricultural training and innovation. Drop Access aims to provide renewable energy to marginalized and remote communities through hosted training sessions outlining solar-powered systems, where community members can learn how to use readily available and locally sourced materials to build personal solar-powered systems.

Drop Access provides further guidance and technical support to institutions such as schools, health care clinics and community centers to install such systems. The success of the initiatives has seen increased outreach by Drop Access, which now targets individuals and households to help them integrate renewable energy sources into their day-to-day lives. As an organization, Drop Access’ efforts and initiatives are broad, yet all draw lifeblood from a common denominator: sustainability.

The work of Drop Access and Magero represents far more than an NGO offering environmentally conscious solutions to the most pressing problems communities can face. The efforts toward sustainable solutions are a testament to the environmental awareness of the younger generation and their commitment to playing a role in addressing global issues through innovation.

– Bojan Ivancic
Photo: Flickr

Noncommunicable Diseases
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) occur due to “genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral factors.” They are not diseases you can get after touching or being in close contact with someone, but they occur after getting a communicable virus or illness that develops. Common NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases. In developing nations, NCDs cause 41 million deaths (74% of all deaths globally) per year. NCDs affect all people, but primarily those who have unhealthy diets, are physically inactive, smoke or excessively drink alcohol. The risks are higher in developing nations where unhealthy lifestyles such as high blood pressure, glucose, fat in the blood and obesity have become more prominent.

3 Deadliest Noncommunicable Diseases

  1. Cardiovascular Disease: This is the deadliest noncommunicable disease. Poor diet and a lack of physical activity are the leading causes of this disease. One can also inherit cardiovascular disease. This can lead to an increase in blood pressure, glucose and weight gain. When not treated, cardiovascular disease can progress into heart attacks and strokes, along with diseases that affect one’s arteries, and blood flow such as coronary artery disease and congenital heart disease.
  2. Cancer: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people can avoid up to 50% of cancers with a healthier lifestyle, such as reducing their intake of tobacco and alcohol and getting immunizations for infections that could cause cancer. Cancer is the second deadliest noncommunicable disease, and lung, liver, stomach, colorectal, prostate, cervical and breast are the most common cancers.
  3. Chronic Respiratory Diseases: These diseases affect the airways and lungs, causing breathing difficulty. Besides inheriting, unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking, also lead to chronic respiratory diseases. Environmental factors play a huge part too. Exposure to air pollution and poor air quality and ventilation can increase the chances of contracting a respiratory disease. Without proper treatment, people can develop more severe diseases such as cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypotension, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Looking Ahead

While people can treat these deadliest noncommunicable diseases, many developing nations cannot afford treatment and lack adequate professional health services. Noncommunicable diseases are long-lasting and can cause suffering with symptoms constantly worsening. According to WHO, every two seconds, a noncommunicable disease kills someone under the age of 70. Currently, 14 of 194 countries that NCDs affect are on target to reach “sustainable development goals” and decrease mortality rates by 2030, preventing nearly 30 million deaths. However, only 5% of outside support goes toward preventing and controlling NCDs, where they are often “overlooked and underfunded.”

To detect, screen and treat NCDs, professional health care services need a drastic improvement. The Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 focuses on the role of governments and stakeholders in reducing and monitoring risk factors and building policies accordingly. For instance, many sectors, such as finance, education and agriculture, need improvement to prevent and control NCDs. In 2019, WHO extended the Global Action Plan from 2013 to 2030 and set nine global targets.

NCDs Around the World

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), 550 million people globally are reported to suffer from cardiovascular disease (CVD) as of 2019. Asia and Australasia account for 310 million of these cases, with Uzbekistan recording the highest mortality rate. WHO has a focused plan on all NCDs affecting Uzbekistan. As part of its cost-effective preventative measures, the government has tightened laws regarding the use of tobacco as well as salt and alcohol consumption. In addition, there are campaigns to encourage people to become more physically active. Screenings for CVD and diabetes will see an improvement as well as treatment for those who are high risk, new cases and ongoing cases.

In 2020, there were 18,094,716 cancer cases across the globe, with Denmark topping the list in terms of the number of cases. However, the highest mortality rates were in Mongolia. WHO’s 2020 to 2024 plan for decreasing cervical cancer has three primary targets: to vaccinate 90% of girls aged 15 against HPV, to screen 70% of women twice by 35 to 45 with 90% of treatment and support managing 90% of women who have invasive cervical cancer.

Possible Solutions

Globally, 545 million people suffered from a chronic respiratory disease in 2017, according to The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, which has seen an increase of 39.8% compared to 1990. COPD and asthma are the leading causes of mortality rates, especially in South Asia.

In order to diagnose NCDs, the fundamental factors require improvement first. For example, improving NCD data, research capacity and funding such as collaborating with other countries and organizations to produce better services, creating factually-correct strategies, and improving health technology. While there is no treatment-based plan, following SDG Target 3.4 could reduce one-third of premature deaths by 2030.

– Deanna Barratt
Photo: Flickr

Women in the Chivi District
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southeast Africa. It is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union. Many know it for its gold and agriculture-based economy as well as its status of being a tourist destination. The Chivi district, specifically, is a district located in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe. This district is known for being quite arid and prone to drought. Natural disasters and changing weather patterns have exacerbated the arid climate and drought in the region.

While changing weather patterns and environmental disasters have been negatively affecting the area, women have been working to combat the more unfavorable effects, such as poverty. A 2012 study on the Chivi District shows that around 33.8% of people in the district suffer from chronic malnutrition. Malnutrition is one of the effects of extreme poverty that women in the district are aiming to combat. This article will focus on the role of women in the Chivi district in battling the effects of poverty and the challenges they face in their mission.

The Role of Women in Rural Economies

Overall, women play an important role in developing countries. A study by Hilda Jaka and Elvin Shava has explained that in more rural countries, such as Zimbabwe, women contribute greatly to the reduction of poverty. They help reduce poverty by making important improvements to rural economies. These improvements often come in the form of livelihoods as farm laborers or wage laborers. They also manage and operate complex households and families. Depending on the region, rural women often work in different sectors of agriculture. In the case of the Chivi district, women uphold the economy through their work in irrigation and pottery.

The Role of Women in Chivi

With a population of 90,170 women and 75,879 men in the district, women make up a larger portion of the population in Chivi. Women in this region often spend the majority of their time working on unpaid chores that are necessary for survival. During cropping season in Chivi, women often tend to contribute by working in irrigation. During the agricultural off-season times, many of the women in Chivi are focused on tasks such as pottery, crocheting, sewing and beer-brewing as means to earn extra income for their families. The work of women in this region contributes greatly to the overall economy as they play key roles in society by providing for their families and communities.

Challenges That Women in Chivi are Facing

Although women play an elemental role in the region’s economy, there are still a number of challenges that they face. One of the main challenges women face in this region is the lack of access to competitive markets. The local Chivi government does not provide ready markets, so women often have to travel to other areas in order to sell their goods (pottery, cloth, etc.). There is no direct transport to these areas so women oftentimes have to walk many miles each day. Changing climate patterns is another problem that women in the area are facing. Environmental disasters, in general, have made it harder for agriculture, which is one of the main means of livelihood for women in the region. These cause high temperatures that negatively impact crop production. Women in Chivi are also not very educated about this matter and have no tools to mitigate it.

Conclusion

Women play a large part in the Chivi district and its economy. Whether working as a laborer in agriculture or making pottery and other sellable goods, women are doing something to help their local economy year-round. While they do face challenges such as a lack of education about changing climate patterns and limited access to competitive markets, they still manage to contribute greatly to society. Their contributions to society not only aid their community and family but also helps in reducing global poverty.

– Timothy Ginter
Photo: Flickr

Updates on SDG 1 in Qatar
The first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is for countries to eliminate poverty. Qatar is an interesting case. While it is the second richest country in the world with an excess of riches through its oil wealth, its kafala sponsorship system has created a great disparity between its migrant population and native Qataris. The kafala system is a labor system that is a predominant culprit of poor living conditions in Qatar. Unfortunately, little data exists on updates on SDG 1 in Qatar. On the whole, Qatar has made some progress in recent years in tackling poverty, and this has been centered around fixing a broken labor system. Since Qatar won the World Cup bid back in 2010, its overall SDG rating has increased from 62.83 in 2010 to an updated score of 66.8 in 2022.

Perhaps the most positive impact of the World Cup came before the tournament commenced. In 2021, the Qatari government announced the implementation of a new increased universal minimum wage. The U.N.’s International Labor Organization (ILO) has said that this will benefit more than 400,000 workers.

Reality

However, as reports have widely stated, many of Qatar’s advancements in labor rights have not been unanimous. There remain reports of foreign workers, which make up 95% of the working population, receiving less than $1 an hour despite the legislative progress.

Under the kafala system, many foreign workers pay a fee to come to Qatar to work. This has been the primary reason for a lack of progress on SDG 1 in Qatar. Workers must work off this fee and often experience uncompromising working conditions, with 12-hour days and no days off. Another often-underreported dimension of this includes the abuse of female workers who take jobs as live-in maids and are extremely vulnerable.

Possible Solutions

Hosting a World Cup is a tremendous commitment and something that requires a variety of complex infrastructure. Qatar has built a new airport, metro system, hundreds of new hotels and multiple new modern stadiums. This has had a direct impact on SDG 8 as economic growth steadily increases and unemployment decreases. 

Approximately 20,000 workers have come under the guise of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the committee that oversaw the planning and building of the World Cup, reflecting a massive surge in employment. There have clearly been transgressions in working conditions during the preparation for the tournament, with concerning reports of worker deaths. However, there is also hope that the building of this infrastructure will trickle down and benefit the entire population.

Similarly, Amnesty International has devised a comprehensive 10-point plan to reform the labor system. This plan reflects how many of the reforms Qatar has made to its kafala system are not far-reaching enough, but with further revisions, foreign workers can have protection and enjoy greater autonomy. For instance, the government changed a law that previously meant that workers had to ask their employers’ permission to leave Qatar in 2020. Now, workers must still inform their employers.

The work of Amnesty International has influenced progress, with an expose in June 2020 surrounding the building of the Al Bayt stadium and its subpar working conditions leading to much international outcry. One can see the progress that occurred in labor reform thereafter as a direct consequence of the NGO’s investigation. 

Looking Ahead

Overall, unfortunately, there is a lack of data surrounding poverty levels and SDG 1 in Qatar. Much of the data that the government released only includes native Qatari who enjoy great benefits from the government. It remains evident that migrant workers bear the brunt of poverty, and it has been reported that Bangladeshi workers, for instance, can earn as little as $275 a month

 – Claudia Dooley
Photo: Unsplash

Violence and Psychological Well-Being
According to a working paper by Nik Stoop, Murray Leibbrandt and Rocco Zizzamia of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, “The ‘social causation’ hypothesis posits that circumstances associated with living in poverty — e.g. high levels of stress, malnutrition, social exclusion, lowered capital, exposure to violence — increase the risk of mental illnesses.” Therefore, links exist between poverty, violence and psychological well-being.

Intimate Partner Violence

The links between poverty, violence and psychological well-being are apparent in the case of intimate partner violence.

In Kenya, intimate partner violence is prevalent and the rates of violence toward women are some of the highest globally, according to a 2016 World Bank article. According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2014, “More than 41% of Kenyan women experience sexual and/or physical violence by intimate partners in their lifetime.” Women have experienced sexual and/or physical violence at the hands of men due to certain stressors.

A World Vision Kenya project initiated a study wherein males reported that stressors such as “unemployment, excessive alcohol and substance use and family difficulties as well as other psychosocial, cultural and gender issues” increase the inclination of violent behavior toward a female spouse. Financial stressors are likely considering that the poverty rate in Kenya stood at 53% in 2018.

The Work of World Vision Kenya

World Vision Kenya in collaboration with the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and World Bank Group Development Marketplace for Innovations to Prevent Gender-Based Violence began an initiative to decrease intimate partner violence in two peri-urban areas of Kenya.

The initiative targeted males with “common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, acknowledging the links between men with mental health problems, alcohol and substance use and high incidences of [intimate partner violence].” The project employed a psychological intervention called Group Problem Management Plus (GPM+) for men with common mental health issues.

Charles Barbuti, an attorney and former New York City Police Department captain, told The Borgen Project that when certain stresses occur, many males feel stuck and helpless and “don’t feel that they have an outlet.” As such, some men turn to violence. The frustrations of unemployment and financial issues and the cultural expectations of a man’s role as the provider contribute negatively to mental well-being. The initiative that World Vision Kenya launched looked to address the links between poverty, violence and psychological well-being.

Psychological Well-Being and Violence

Researchers have comprehensively researched the correlation between poverty, violence and psychological well-being as each factor can be a symptom of the other. One of the many consequences of intimate partner violence is the development of severe psychological issues.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “About two-thirds of women receiving mental health services have experienced intimate partner violence/domestic violence, a number higher than the general population.”

A study published in April 2022 by Claire Bahati and others used data from the 2018 Rwanda Mental Health Survey to identify correlations between intimate partner violence and mental health issues.

Findings from the cross-sectional study revealed that “the prevalence of all types of mental disorders was significantly higher in participants exposed to IPV than in non-exposed (p ≤ 0.001).” Furthermore, the subject group with exposure to intimate partner violence had higher rates of major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder as well as other disorders.

The Low-Income Link

When asked if intimate partner violence is higher in households that are suffering from poverty, Barbuti responded: “It may just be a correlation problem, but it does seem that it is more prevalent in lower-income environments.”

A cross-sectional study titled Income, Gender and Forms of Intimate Partner Violence published in July 2017 looked at the correlation between income and different forms of intimate partner violence among males and females. Data for this study came from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy in Brisbane, Australia.

The study found that “relative experiences of almost all forms of IPV (with the exception of physical abuse in males and harassment in females) are highest when both partners report receiving low income.” In addition, the study found that females in lower-income households are most susceptible to physical abuse, emotional abuse and severe combined abuse while males are more susceptible to experiencing harassment and severe combined abuse.

According to the Child Poverty Action Group, “Women in households with low incomes are 3.5 times more likely to experience domestic violence than women in slightly better-off households.” Child Poverty Action Group helps address the stressor of poverty in the U.K. by providing assistance and support to struggling families and children through payments, advice, free school meals and advocacy work.

Looking Ahead

By analyzing the links between poverty, violence and psychological disorders, organizations can address the root cause of the issues and develop more effective initiatives to combat poverty, violence and psychological disorders. Initiatives by organizations such as World Vision Kenya aim to reduce intimate partner violence by addressing stressors and the mental health illnesses associated with such violence.

– Yonina Anglin
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in South Sudan
The Republic of South Sudan is located in Eastern Africa. Many know it for its newly-gained independence from Sudan and its status of being the youngest nation in the world. However, South Sudan is also one of the poorest nations in the world and is listed as 185 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI). Due to ongoing conflict in the region, such as the recent civil wars, South Sudan has seen a spike in issues related to the country’s health system and many of its citizens are impacted by HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, international and domestic institutions are taking major steps in combating the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the region.

The Reality of HIV/Aids in South Sudan

One can characterize the issue of HIV/AIDS in South Sudan as being more concentrated in certain social groups and geographical areas. For example, HIV and AIDS are more prevalent in the southern regions of the nation and even more prevalent among female sex workers within those regions.

The transmission of HIV is a topic that is studied at length to combat the spread of the virus. According to the South Sudan Mode of Transmission Report (MoT), a study that occurred in 2014 regarding forms of transmitting HIV, the majority of the newest cases came from heterosexual sexual relations and mothers transmitting to their newborn children. Mother-to-child transmission often happened in cases of birthing, breastfeeding and pregnancy.

Another statistic that researchers often analyze when discerning the severity of the issue within a certain region is the percentage of the general population that has the virus. The U.N. Progress Report for monitoring HIV/AIDS in South Sudan states that around 2.5% of adults (ages 15-49) are living with HIV. This number, however, is improving due to help from institutions such as the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the U.N. These institutions are working on new ways of preventing the spread of HIV and treating those who have already been affected.

Something else that institutions take into consideration when attempting to combat viruses such as HIV is the general public’s knowledge of that virus. According to a survey on the attitudes and knowledge of HIV in Nimule, most adolescents had “fair” knowledge of HIV with 82% of the surveyed youth being aware that HIV can spread through sexual intercourse and 98% being aware that it can spread through blood. While the researchers concluded that there were some misconceptions surrounding the virus, it is commendable that most adolescents in the survey had a basic knowledge of the subject.

How Institutions are Battling HIV/AIDS in the Region

According to an article that the U.N. published, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in South Sudan – and Africa as a whole –  is declining rather quickly. This is due to international institutions such as UNAIDS and the governments of Africa funneling money into their health programs. However, this article also stresses the need for continued monetary support to help these countries become healthier and safer.

One way that UNAIDS and African governments are helping combat this virus is through HIV testing. According to the MoH, there were around 32 facilities in South Sudan that provided HIV-related assistance, like testing. The South Sudanese government has also made it its mission to “Test and Treat all.” These testing efforts have made it a lot easier for institutions to pinpoint certain concentrations of affected individuals and allocate their resources accordingly. These measures to “test all” have been successful. The total number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment increased by around 20,300 between March 2013 and March 2018.

Another way in which institutions are helping the cause is by amping up anti-retroviral therapy (ART). This is an HIV treatment that helps to contain HIV replication. This therapy greatly reduces the mortality rate of HIV and even allows some patients to live completely normal lives. The “test all treat all” initiative has certain guidelines, one of which includes a minimum amount of time one can wait to receive treatment after testing positive for HIV (one week). Guidelines like these make it easier for governments and other institutions to manage the spread and treatment of the virus.

The Road Ahead

Although HIV/AIDS in South Sudan continues to be an issue, it is critical to note that governments and organizations are working to combat it. With the help of both international and domestic institutions, the cases of HIV continue to decrease year after year. However, it is still crucial to take into account that the issue has not reached its end, and continued support for South Sudan is of utmost importance.

– Tim Ginter
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Entrepreneurship in Nigeria
Located in West Africa, Nigeria is one of the poorest countries in the world. The Federal Government of Nigeria, through a report by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2022, reported that 133 million Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. This accounts for about 63% of the country’s total population. Many cannot afford to fund their basic and essential needs and struggle to make a living every day.

One fundamental cause of poverty in Nigeria is the lack of employment. In March 2022, Professor Idris Bugaje, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), reported that about 90 million Nigerian youths are unemployed. Many Nigerians do not have an education which makes it challenging for them to obtain jobs. Without employment, people often cannot be financially secure or meet basic needs. Currently, there are about 159 polytechnics and 221 universities in Nigeria, which produce up to 500,000 graduates every year with no jobs in the labor market. There are not enough job opportunities in the country even for those who have an education. However, entrepreneurship in Nigeria has proven to be effective in the reduction of unemployment.

Entrepreneurship in Nigeria

Through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), entrepreneurship in Nigeria has contributed immensely to the economy. In fact, Vannesa Lerato Phala, the Country Director of the International Labour Congress said at the opening session of a workshop that took place in November 2022, at Abuja, that “In Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48% of national GDP, account for 96% of businesses and 84% of employment. This sector contributes significantly to alleviating poverty and increasing job creation.”

Entrepreneurs create employment opportunities for themselves as well as for others. Entrepreneurship in Nigeria impacts the country’s economic growth by bringing new products, techniques and processes to the market and also extensively increases productivity and competition amongst producers of goods and services. Many Nigerians now possess at least one entrepreneurial skill with which they are able to sponsor the lifestyle they wish to live. The government has helped increase awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship in Nigeria by introducing entrepreneurship studies as a compulsory course in higher institutions and establishing and supporting some programs that promote skill acquisition. Here are three entrepreneurship programs promoting entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

3 Entrepreneurship Programs Promoting Entrepreneurship in Nigeria

  1. The Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP): YEDP launched on March 15, 2016. It aims to promote resourcefulness by providing capital to youth entrepreneurs and start-ups that often face problems of inadequacy and high costs. Target beneficiaries of the program are graduates who are members of or have completed their service with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) after five years or less or those who possess a verifiable tertiary institution certificate. Beneficiaries also include artisans with a First School Leaving Certificate or a technical certificate or accredited proficiency certificate from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
  2. The Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) Entrepreneurship Training Programme: The Development Bank of Nigeria has aimed to reduce the constraints that MSMEs face in Nigeria by providing loans and risk management tools. The DBN Entrepreneurship Training Programme began in 2019 to implement MSMEs with the prerequisites necessary for business growth and success. The training is usually open to business owners who are 18 years old and above, and are legal citizens of Nigeria.
  3. FGN Special Intervention Fund For MSMEs (National Enterprise Development Programme): This is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria targeted toward the provision of subsidized loans to MSMEs with 9% interest only. In order to promote and encourage the impact of MSMEs, which are engaged in manufacturing and agro-processing, on the economy of the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria established the Special Intervention Fund in 2015 to give funds necessary for local raw materials. With this program, SMEs can receive funding of up to 20 million Naira, for people to pay back with only 9% interest per annum.

Looking Ahead

With so many skills that entrepreneurs in Nigeria engage in, they have slowly proven to be the major drivers of job creation, wealth creation and industrialization. By promoting entrepreneurship in Nigeria, the government encourages those who are underprivileged, and without funds, to go ahead and pitch their business ideas for funding, this has resulted in significant progress in the country’s economy over the years.

– Oluwagbohunmi Bajela
Photo: Flickr